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Soaring gas prices might shorten some RV trips this coming three-day weekend and over the summer, but the prospects of pump pain don’t seem to be stalling most RV travel plans or sales, the Arizona Republic reports.
“It’s going to stop us from going far, (but) it won’t stop us from going up to the Rim (of the Grand Canyon) and around the state, which we normally do at this time of year anyway,” said Suzi Holden, of Phoenix, about plans with her husband, Wes, to tour with their 30-foot fifth-wheel.
Jan Smith of Mesa, however, told the Phoenix, Ariz.-based newspaper that she and her husband, Russ, can’t afford to drive their 34-foot Gulf Stream motorhome to Reno, Nev., next week for a bowling tournament he’s entered in because of high fuel prices.
“It would cost over $1,000 to go to Reno and back in the motorhome,” she said.
Instead, they’ll drive their car and stay in a motel and time share. They hope to take some shorter RV trips later if gas prices drop.
These couples – like many young, old and in between – enjoy the open road, exploration and comforts of home that literally include the kitchen sink. They’re part of a large and growing pool of RV owners and renters that the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) pegs at 30 million.
The outlook is for continued growth because of baby boomers retiring with disposable income; more people valuing family time together after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; and trends toward shorter, but more frequent, vacations.
That would seem to bode well for Arizona, where tourism’s annual economic impact is $30 billion.
“The type of tourist that Arizona attracts . . . is one who appreciates open space, natural beauty, scenic roads – a lot of characteristics that lend themselves to RV travel,” said James Ahlers, spokesman for the state Office of Tourism.
One in six U.S. households intends to buy an RV in the future, according to a 2001 University of Michigan study that the RVIA cites.
The rising RV tide is floating smaller boats, too. David Baroldy of Antlers R.V. in Phoenix, which sells folding campers and travel trailers, said he’s as busy as he has been in his six years in the business. While customers are complaining about fuel prices, they continue to travel.
Baroldy calls RVers “salt of the earth” people. “These are the real American people . . . the kind of people that I like to associate with.”
Meanwhile, Earnhardt RV Centers saw first quarter sales revenue improve 60% over the first quarter of 2003, said Kevin Wise, corporate sales manager. Units sold rose 25%, he said, citing factors that include attractive interest rates.